Labradford: Carter Brown, Robert Donne, Mark Nelson.
Recorded at Electrical Audio, Chicago, Illinois in July 2000.
In the spirit of Meddle, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, and Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Labradford's sixth record features a side-length composition and a flip of shorter works. With Fixed::Context, they've built on the spatial qualities of E Luxo So, while making their most personal and intimate recording, despite it being completely vocal-less. Simple, subtle, and quite beautiful, the 37-minute album rewards during deep concentration and as use for background. It's just as scenic as Scenic and just as pleasantly dust-blown as Ry Cooder's score to Paris, Texas. Barely-there electronic rustling and an organ drone lead off the 18-minute-long "Twenty." Two spaghetti western-style guitars duel between the channels, both attentive to each other. Periodic skips and pops enter two-thirds through, fading away with the other carefully constructed layers as the side closes with a shrill tone. The twang slightly dissipates for "Up to Pizmo" and "David," where both guitars again gracefully lock horns. A pulsing stomp gradually comes into focus on the former, like a blues guitarist keeping the beat with his foot. On "David," an airy synth helps rid the track of gravitational pull, only to leave in favor of a furnace blast and more electrical surges. "Wien" is led by a reverberant synth melody, as the guitars play more of a supportive role. Not particularly maverick or innovative by any stretch, Fixed::Context loses none of its effect throughout a day's worth of rotation. The addition and subtraction of its graceful layers ebb and flow, shifting like harm-free plate tectonics. Like the best ambient music, it's solemn and deceptively melodic. If you found any of Labradford's earlier records to be too boring for your taste, this won't do anything to change your opinion. ~ Andy Kellman
Q (3/01, p.108) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Somnolent pieces saved from ennui by pristine textures and being smart enough to know the value of tunes....with each release, they go someplace new, if subtly, and in a strangely haunting way."
Alternative Press (5/01, p.82) - 4 out of 5 - "...A short, quiet and relatively still bit of genius..."
Magnet (6-7/01, p.97) - "...Quiet and haunting....endlessly fascinating..."
Muzik (3/01, p.93) - 4 out of 5 - "...There are soft bass pulses, Twin Peaks guitars, understated electronics and all the dynamism of an elderly sloth. It's a beautiful, immersive album..."
CMJ (2/19/01, p.16) - "...Leans more towards the spaces in between the beats...and the 4-track 40-minute suite makes the most of this tension between occasional traditional melodies and found sounds..."
NME (Magazine) (2/17/01, p.45) - 7 out of 10 - "...Clearly these guys know about atmosphere....[with] their usual dark alleyful of humid analogue hums and stealth percussion....lish as a graveyard lawn..."